Coronary artery bypass grafting in diabetics: A growing health care cost crisis

Sajjad Raza, Joseph F. Sabik, Ponnuthurai Ainkaran, Eugene H. Blackstone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives To determine 4-decade temporal trends in the prevalence of diabetes and cardiovascular risk factors among patients undergoing coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) and to compare in-hospital outcomes, resource utilization, and long-term survival after CABG in diabetics versus nondiabetics. Methods From January 1972 to January 2011, 10,362 pharmacologically treated diabetics and 45,139 nondiabetics underwent first-time CABG. Median follow-up was 12 years. Direct technical cost data were available from 2003 onward (n = 4679). Propensity matching by diabetes status was used for outcome comparisons. Endpoints were in-hospital adverse events, resource utilization, and long-term survival. Results Diabetics undergoing CABG increased from 7% in the 1970s to 37% in the 2000s. Their outcomes were worse, with more (P <.05) in-hospital deaths (2.0% vs 1.3%), deep sternal wound infections (2.3% vs 1.2%), strokes (2.2% vs 1.4%), renal failure (4.0% vs 1.3%), and prolonged postoperative hospital stay (9.6% vs 6.0%); and their hospital costs were 9% greater (95% confidence interval 7%-11%). Survival after CABG among diabetics versus nondiabetics at 1, 5, 10, and 20 years was also worse: 94% versus 94%, 80% versus 84%, 56% versus 66%, and 20% versus 32%, respectively. Propensity-matched patients incurred similar costs, but the prevalence of postoperative deep sternal wound infections and stroke, as well as long-term survival, remained worse in diabetics. Conclusions Diabetes is both a marker for high-risk, resource-intensive, and expensive care after CABG and an independent risk factor for reduced long-term survival. These issues, coupled with the increasing proportion of patients needing CABG who have diabetes, are a growing challenge in reining in health care costs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)304-312.e2
JournalJournal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Coronary artery bypass grafting
  • diabetes
  • health care costs


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